The Rail Thing

I visited my dad in New Mexico this past week, and he and my brother introduced me to a game called Ticket to Ride, created by Alan R. Moon and published in 2004 by Days of Wonder.

According to Wikipedia, it’s considered a German-style game, although I’m not entirely sure what that means. From what I can tell, it’s basically a board game with a theme and more of a sense of strategy than many traditional board games, but less than the more complex wargames. The focus is often on building things or developing industry, sort of like Monopoly without the reliance on dice. Ticket to Ride specifically focuses on the development of railroads between cities. At the start of the game, each player receives ticket cards that identify the routes you can build for points. There are also cards with various colors on them, and in order to play a train, you need enough cards of a certain color to reach from one city to another. For instance, to get from New York to Boston, you need either two red or two yellow cards.

Playing requires a lot of planning ahead and looking at different ways of completing a route.

The general aesthetic is of the turn of the twentieth century when railroads were in vogue, and we also played with an expansion pack identified with 1910. Versions of the game in other countries use their own cities, and an expansion for the European one is called Europa 1912.

From what I can tell, the cities are chosen more for their location than for any historical reason, although I’m sure there were train stations at all of them back in 1900. I don’t think I’d even heard of Sault Ste. Marie, a city on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, before playing the game; but apparently it was an important enough railway hub to have a line named after it, the United States branch of Canadian Pacific.

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